The short answer is no.
Now, for the long answer…
When you eat protein, the body breaks it down into individual amino acids in the process of digestion.
These amino acids are then absorbed through the intestinal wall.
There doesn’t seem to be a limit to the quantity of amino acids that we can absorb in a single meal.
However, not all of these amino acids are used for muscle protein synthesis (MPS).
In fact, 50 to 65% of all absorbed amino acids are used by the liver!
The “leftover” amino acids are transported to the rest of the body, so that other cells can utilise them as needed, including muscle cells.
In order to build muscle, you need to maintain a positive net muscle protein balance over a prolonged period of time.
For this to occur, the average rate of MPS has to exceed the rate of muscle protein breakdown (MPB) over time.
In less science-y terms, your body needs to spend more time creating new muscle protein than breaking it down.
Therefore, it’s important to trigger a maximal MPS spike three to six times a day.
That’s why how much protein you eat in a single meal matters.
According to research, most adults need at least 0.4 to 0.5g of complete protein per kilogram of bodyweight per meal in order to maximally stimulate MPS.
Older people seem to experience a phenomenon known as “anabolic resistance”, whereby the anabolic (muscle-building) response to protein is blunted.
This means that, if you’re 60 or over, you may need more protein per meal in order to maximise the MPS response than you did when you were younger (likely around 0.6g per kilogram).
On average, 0.4 to 0.5g per kilogram equates to 20 to 40g of protein per meal for average-sized people under 60 years of age.
In conclusion, to optimise your protein consumption for the purpose of muscle growth, you want to hit your overall daily protein requirements by triggering a spike in MPS with three to six complete protein doses spread somewhat equally across the day.
So don’t worry about not being able to absorb more than 30g of protein in a single meal.
Not only is your body capable of it. You may actually need more than this to maximally stimulate MPS, depending on your size and age!
For a deeper dive into calculating your daily protein needs, the best protein sources for muscle growth, and more, check out this longer blog article: “A Comprehensive Guide to Protein for Muscle Growth”.
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